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Now that I have my first year of South Dakota high school sports under my belt with a good understanding of the area's sports, I want to take the left side of today's sports section to recognize one school that stood out in 2008-'09. Sure, almost every area school has some type of sports moment I could mention, but this school deserves an extra bit of credit. The first time I made the trip to Wagner High School, it was during early season football practice and I strolled up to a group of hard-working kids getting ready for the upcoming season.
Fresh off a spring state championship and rolling into the Legion season with a 9-3 record, the Mitchell Post 18 team is at a midseason crossroads. Since the hot start, head coach Luke Norden's team is 4-6 in its last 10 games, including a couple very disappointing losses. A fresh start is what the team could use, and starting today, Mitchell will be at the Fargo-Moorhead tournament -- possibly the perfect place to jumpstart the season.
After hosting South Dakota's first-ever Hunting Retrievers Club Grand National at the end of May, Granite Springs in Alexandria can now call itself the first-ever HRC national official training site. The HRC has around 10,000 active members, and now, any one of those members -- whether it is a local member or someone from out of state who's on vacation -- can train their dog at Granite Springs to prepare for the next grand, which is also known as the Super Bowl for dogs.
After two lazy fly outs in the top of the seventh, the Mitchell Post 18 baseball team was one out away from sweeping Aberdeen Monday night. Instead, the Smitty's scored seven runs with two outs, spoiling what could have been a sweet night for Post 18. "Guys were thinking about way too much instead of just going out and playing baseball," Mitchell head coach Luke Norden said. "The hardest thing to swallow is you could have taken a couple steps forward as a team ... and getting a couple big wins.
The countless hours of hard work paid off. At least that's what Matt Everson says. The Mitchell native, who is wrestling for one of the biggest Division I collegiate wrestling powerhouses in the nation, returned to the mat last November after a year-and-a-half stint in Iraq. This fall, the Gopher returns to the mat again in his senior year on the team.
CANOVA -- The baseball gods kept the sky clear enough in Canova Tuesday night, giving 51-year-old Kevin Leighton a chance at career home run No. 500. After a four-pitch walk in his first at-bat, Leighton -- who has almost 170 more career homers than any other South Dakota amateur baseball player -- saw a high fastball he sent soaring to deep center that dropped two feet shy of the 370-foot mark -- a long single. "That was my best chance of the night," said Leighton, who has 499 career South Dakota amateur home runs.
He's a 51-year-old home run crushing machine. Sunday in Canova, the Gangs' Kevin Leighton hammered a fastball on the second pitch he saw during an at-bat in a game against Harrisburg. He watched the ball sail over the fence for a grand slam, home run No. 499. Tonight Leighton goes for a milestone he never thought he would reach until about three or four years ago when he knocked over No. 450.
Arguably three of the most successful wrestlers in the last decade to come through the Mitchell program shared, showed and demonstrated their knowledge Thursday in the Mitchell High School wrestling room. Even more interesting than the fact they all have wrestled at the Division I collegiate level is the fact they all share the same last name. The first-ever Everson Brothers Wrestling Camp started Thursday morning.
With more than 400 combined prep victories, 11 combined state-place showings and three Division I collegiate wrestling careers, the Everson brothers know wrestling. Mitchell natives Andy, Matt and Adam Everson are returning to their hometown wrestling room Thursday to host the first-ever Everson Brothers Wrestling Camp. The three-day camp will host about 40 wrestlers ages kindergarten through senior high, and the three brothers will focus on different techniques throughout the length of the camp.
PLATTE -- Mitchell's Brett Young drilled a screaming line drive three-run homer over the center field fence. The blast ignited Post 18's offense in the fourth inning, helping the team take a five-run lead en route to an 18-4 win in eight innings over Platte-Geddes Monday night. "Brett had struggled a little bit as of the last couple games," Post 18 head coach Luke Norden said. "He's been working hard in the cage, and I've got his hands raised up a little more.